Case: Lollis v. Dept. of Social Services

1:70-04750 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Filed Date: Oct. 29, 1970

Closed Date: April 30, 1971

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 1970, a class action lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all children confined to New York State Training Schools and subject to lengthy periods of solitary confinement and against the New York State Department of Social Services and the director of Brookwood Annex to Hudson State Training School for Girls. The plaintiffs, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, sought injunctive, declarato…

In 1970, a class action lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of all children confined to New York State Training Schools and subject to lengthy periods of solitary confinement and against the New York State Department of Social Services and the director of Brookwood Annex to Hudson State Training School for Girls. The plaintiffs, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, sought injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief, alleging that Brookwood violated their constitutional rights by isolating detainees for excessive periods of time.

The named plaintiff in this case was confined at Brookwood after she was adjudged to be a person in need of supervision (PINS), although she had never committed a crime. Brookwood placed juveniles in isolation without notice or any hearing. According to the court, seclusion at Brookwood amounted to prolonged sensory deprivation. Juveniles confined at Brookwood could be isolated, clad only in pajamas, for weeks at a time in a stripped 6' by 9' room without access to books and recreation equipment. Social workers and other staff visited secluded juveniles erratically.

This lawsuit and Pena v. New York State Division for Youth, JI-NY-006, were treated as companion cases but were not consolidated because Pena addressed more issues than Lollis. The plaintiffs in both lawsuits moved for preliminary injunctions, which the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge Morris E. Lasker) granted on December 18, 1970. Lollis v. New York State Dept. of Soc. Serv., 322 F. Supp. 473 (S.D.N.Y. 1970). Although the court declined to find isolation of juvenile detainees unconstitutional per se, the court held that isolating a juvenile in a stripped room with no form of stimuli for weeks at a time was cruel and unusual punishment.

On April 30, 1971, the court modified the injunction to comport with the holding in Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1971), that federal courts should not determine what modes of punishment were available for use in State prisons. Lollis v. New York State Dept. of Soc. Serv., 328 F. Supp. 1115 (S.D.N.Y. 1971). The court, therefore, narrowed the injunction to only benefit the named plaintiffs.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (11/12/2007)

Related Cases

Pena v. New York State Division for Youth, Southern District of New York (1970)

People


Judge(s)

Lasker, Morris Edward (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Neuborne, Burt (New York)

Silbert, James D. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Lefkowitz, Louis J. (New York)

Other Attorney(s)

Active

Judge(s)

Lasker, Morris Edward (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Neuborne, Burt (New York)

Silbert, James D. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Lefkowitz, Louis J. (New York)

Other Attorney(s)

Hoffman, Hillel (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Opinion

Lollis v. New York State Department of Social Services

322 F.Supp. 473

Dec. 18, 1970 Order/Opinion

Opinion

Lollis v. New York State Department of Social Services

328 F.Supp. 1115

April 30, 1971 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Juvenile Institution

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 29, 1970

Closing Date: April 30, 1971

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

all children confined to New York State Training Schools and subject to lengthy periods of solitary confinement

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National Prison Project

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

New York State Deparmtent of Social Services, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 1970 - None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Administrative segregation

Disciplinary procedures

Disciplinary segregation

Library (non-law) access

Recreation / Exercise

Type of Facility:

Government-run